Help with food itinerary for LA visit this week
Hi, my BF and I are visiting LA and San Diego from NY over Memorial Day weekend and want to squeeze in as many great meals in our few days/nights as possible! We'll be staying at the Intercontinental in Century City for 2 nights before driving down to SD. We'll also have one more late night in the LAX area (after Angels game) when we return from SD. I've read so many posts on the great ethnic eats in LA and am now torn between the many choices. If fellow chowhounders can help me in narrowing my choices, that would be so very appreciated!
Night 1 (around 9:30pm): For Korean BBQ - Soot Bull Jeep vs. AYCE at Gui Rim/Mu Dung San. BF can eat A LOT and loves the idea of endless amounts of meat =). However, if Soot Bull Jeep is decidedly better in taste and quality, I think we would go with that over the AYCE.
Day 1: Thinking of visiting Santa Monica, Beverly Hills (Rodeo Drive), Hollywood, and Chinatown (Olvera St). Would lunch at Asanebo be out of the way? Would you recommend another sushi restaurant (e.g. Sushi Zo, Sushi Mori??) that is logistically closer and as good/comparable in quality? We love fattier/oily sushi - toro, aji, salmon, yellowtail, anago, and scallop are amongst some of our favorites. We are not as crazy about cooked dishes. Our budget is around $75-100 pp (no alcohol as he will be driving).
Also, do you think it's possible to squeeze in Taco's Baja Ensenada for a midday snack? Not sure what the traffic is like at around 3.
Night 2: Early dinner at Beverly Soon Tofu before Dodgers game at 7:40pm. BF is also intent on saving room for a grilled dodger dog and beers =). Is Sunset Blvd a good place to stop by for drinks after the game?
Day 2: Thinking of leaving Century City for SD at around 9 or 10am. Is there a good place for breakfast in the area or along the way? Would love to do dim sum (in SGV or Chinatown) but it seems most restaurants are not open until 10/11am.
Night 3: After Angels game (around 9:30pm/10pm on night of Memorial Day) - Any good restaurants still open at this time around the area (from Anaheim to, and around Westin LAX)? Was hoping to try good pho but not sure any are open late. If not in the area, is Father's Office or Monte Alban worth driving up to from LAX?
Thank you all for your help!!
It's a large city, geographically speaking, so you might want to double-check your distances as you plan your days. For example, on Day 1, you'll be covering quite a bit of territory. Personally, I would skip the visit to Chinatown -- it's nothing much to look at. The Chinatown in LA is a part of history because the real epicenter of Chinese culture has moved to Monterey Park, which is a 15-minute drive from downtown (without traffic). You could go there if you want, but it's really just a collection of restaurants and grocery stores, albeit with wonderful food. It's a fairly utilitarian place, though, so it's not much to look at.
On the night you're going to Dodger Stadium, I wouldn't go to any heroic efforts to save room for the Dodger Dog. Call me some sort of Abe Froman wannabe, but the Dodger Dog just doesn't hold a candle to the sausages I grew up with in the midwest. I'd instead suggest having a bigger meal before (and maybe after) the game. There is always room for beer, so I wouldn't worry about spoiling that appetite. After the game, the Sunset Strip is a fine place for grabbing drinks, but bear in mind that there will be velvet ropes and dress codes at the cooler places. What type of bar are you looking for? A scene? A view? Something from old LA? Celebrities?
On the morning of your drive down to San Diego, you've got a few choices for breakfast. It depends what you're looking for. Personally, I'd have a little snack before hopping in the car and then in Orange County, get off at Brookhurst and check out Little Saigon. You'll find great Vietnamese food down there. That's my personal M.O. when I travel down to San Diego. If Vietnamese doesn't do the trick for you, then I'd suggest either BreadBar or Clementine for a nice breakfast spot before heading down to SD. Both are very close to your hotel.
On the night after the Angels game, I would suggest making the drive up to Monte Alban, just because it's my favorite place in LA. I'd suggest calling them to see their hours for that day, but I suspect they'll be open because they're always open. They work hard. If they're not open, then you might have good luck with the taco truck on Lincoln Blvd (south of Rose) in Venice or, just a block north of that, the taco stand called La Playita. Both are first rate places specializing in different types of Mexican food. Experience tells me that nothing in NYC really competes.
You asked a question about Korean food. I would personally skip the AYCE place. My favorite place is Sa Rit Gol, but Soot Bull Jeep is no slouch.
You also asked about sushi and I would suggest Sushi Zo or Kiriko. I think they are both better than Asanebo.
Thanks glutton for your suggestions! I am now leaning towards Kiriko over Asanebo as it is closer to the areas we'll be visiting. I actually really like the reviews I've read on Sushi Zo on this board but it seems they only serve sushi (no sashimi?). While I prefer nigiri, BF actually prefers sashimi. Do you know if Sushi Zo serves sashimi?
Ah yes, taco trucks =). Also one of our food goals that I forgot to mention. Besides the one on Lincoln Blvd, is Taco Zone Truck a good one? Thinking it might be a good post-Dodger game snack since it's pretty close to the stadium.
For drinks, we're into the more laid-back bar/lounge type places that offer a good selection of beer and fun crowd (we're in our late twenties). We're not into scenes or lines or celebrities.
Also thanks for the idea of stopping in OC on our way to SD! I've been trying to figure out a way to get pho on our list! Do you have any favorites for pho in OC? I've read that Pho 54 and Pho 79 is pretty good.
Personally, I think Asabebo is the best Sushi choice, I prefer it to Kiriko and Sushi Zo. However, it is a tad out of your way, being in the San Fernando Valley.
I agree, the Dodger Dog really isnt all that. At Doger Stadium, I go to the Gordon Biersch stands for Garlic fries and thier beer.
Around LAX, for better beer without driving to FO, go to the Sheraton Four Points-right in the exact area as the airport. The bar/restaraunt there has good beer and nice food. Pann's coffee shop is also near there..not fancy schmancy, but loved by many hounds!
>>>"Also, do you think it's possible to squeeze in Taco's Baja Ensenada for a midday snack? Not sure what the traffic is like at around 3."
From the westside from where you are coming from on Day 1, getting to Taco's Baja Ensendada even during the afternoon will be rather time consuming. I would pass.
>>>"Day 2: Thinking of leaving Century City for SD at around 9 or 10am. Is there a good place for breakfast in the area or along the way? Would love to do dim sum (in SGV or Chinatown) but it seems most restaurants are not open until 10/11am."
Dim sum will be out of the question. If you don't mind do a diner-type breakfast, try Pann's, which is sort of the on way to SD if you are leaving from Century City area. www.panns.com
Contrary to what others have said, I think it's worthwhile to get a Dodger dog, just make sure it's grilled and not steamed. It's not the end-all-be-all of stadium eats, but if you're at Chavez Ravine, why not at least try one.
For either before or after the Dodger game, skip the taco truck -- you are very close to perhaps the best taco stand in SoCal. It is Carnitas Michaocan, on North Broadway at the N/W corner of 19th, just north of Chinatown and almost due east and down the hill from the stadium. Good carne asada, even better al pastor carved from a rotisserie spit. I like the burritos (I get mine w/o beans) but they also do tacos, quesadillas, and special nachos with meat as well as cheese, guac, and sauce. But the thing that is special there, that makes it rise to prominence and excellence, is their salsa roja. Thin, brick-brownish red, spicy, complex, hot -- it elevates everything it touches. They will give a few thimble-size containers with burritos and tacos, but they also sell small cupfulls that are well worth having for the rest of your trip. Order at one window, pick up at another, covered patio seating -- go either during the day or when the area is still crowded immediately after the game (it can be sketchy late at night). Burritos are big and about $5 each.
If you really want to get in some Dim Sum on this trip there are a couple possibilities (depending on how badly you want it :) -
1. For Day 2, you could go to NBC Seafood in Monterey Park. It opens promptly every morning at 8:00 a.m. and is of the traditional Carts of Dim Sum rolling through the aisles. Since it's all cooked and ready to eat, you could finish Dim Sum in 30-45 minutes easily and be off to San Diego.
Note that NBC Seafood is a shell of its former self (it used to be one of the best Dim Sum restaurants in So Cal). It's not "bad" nowadays, but with the excellence of places like Sea Harbour and Elite, and NBC's own decline, it's now merely "decent / OK" Dim Sum, but authentic and frequented by many locals.
2. Or, if you really want to try great Dim Sum no matter what, you could get to Sea Harbour on Day 1 at 9:45 a.m. sharp (at the latest) and get in with the first wave of people. If you manage the amount of dishes you order, you'll get a nice sampling of little, well-made Dim Sum, without stuffing yourself, and then eat your Sushi lunch a little later (say, ~1:00 - 1:30 p.m.). (^_~)